I’d never dabbled in casual sex until Tinder. I had friends who’d indulged in one-night stands and was probably guilty of judging them a little, of slut-shaming. I saw the negatives – that merry-go-round of hook-ups and guys never calling again. Then, in , my partner dumped me. We’d only been together eight months but I was serious, deeply in love, and seven months of celibacy followed. By summer, I needed something to take the pain away. Big loves don’t come every day. Instead of “boyfriend hunting”, searching for an exact copy of my ex, why not get out there, enjoy dating, have a good laugh – and, if I felt a connection, some good sex too? I could be married in five years and I’d never experimented before. This was my chance to see what all the fuss was about.
There’s a hierarchy of seriousness on the dating sites. At the top is something like Guardian Soulmates or Match – the ones you pay for. At the lower end are the likes of OKCupid or PlentyOfFish (POF) which are free, more casual and less “Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?” I started with OKCupid but the problem was that any creep can message you out of the blue – I quickly moved to Tinder because both parties need to indicate they’re attracted before either can get in touch.
It’s playful. You put in your pictures and add some information if you can be bothered. I started with one line “Single Canadian girl in London”. It’s superficial, based purely on physical attraction, but that’s what I was looking for. You go through what’s there, if you see someone you like, you swipe right. If he swipes you too, it lights up like a game, then asks if you want to keep playing.
My first Tinder date was with someone I’d seen before on OKCupid – the same faces crop up on all these sites. “Amsterdam” was a hip, scenester guy with an amazing job. He knew all the cool restaurants, the best places and, as he was only in London occasionally, things moved faster than they should have. After just a few dates, he booked us a night in a fancy Kensington hotel. I met him at a pub first – liquid courage – and knew the second I saw him that my heart wasn’t in it. The connection wasn’t there for me. But he was a sweet guy who was paying ?300 for the room and, though he’d never have forced me, it was the first time in my life I’ve felt obliged to have sex with someone. Not a great start.
But Tinder is addictive. You find yourself browsing and swiping want Dating by age dating app and playing on. The possibilities pile up. I’m ashamed to say it but I sometimes went on three or four dates a week. It could be to a bar around the corner, or somewhere fabulous – Berner’s Tavern, the Chiltern Firehouse. Most of the guys I met were looking for sex, rarely were they after a relationship.
With Tinder, I discovered what it could be to have sex then walk away without a backward glance. That was liberating. /won’t he?”. It could just be fun. Sometimes I had nothing in common with the guy but there was a sexual spark. “NottingHill” was one of those. In “real life”, he was the ultimate knob. He didn’t fit with my politics, my views, I’d never have introduced him to my friends. In bed, though, he was passionate, eager, energetic. For a while, we’d hook up every six weeks. “French Guy” was another positive – I found out what the fuss about French lovers was all about.